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Stand Watie Born 12 December 1806

Confederate General Stand Watie was born near Rome, Georgia. He was the son of a full-blooded Cherokee chief and a half-blooded White/Cherokee mother. Watie was part of the Cherokee tribe that voted to move to the Indian Territory. Watie survived the tribe’s Trail of Tears march in the 1830s and became the only Native American to achieve the rank of general during the Civil War.

Stand Watie  – Early Civil War Years

Watie was the Colonel of the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles in the Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn Tavern where they took Union artillery and covered the Confederate retreat at the end of the end of the three day battle. Watie would later lead his Cherokee at the First Battle of Cabin Creek in 1863 and then  on the raid that took the Union steamboat J.R. Williams in 1864.

Stand Watie – Promotion to Brigadier General and Later Civil War Years

Also in 1864, Watie was promoted to Brigadier General and put in command of a brigade of native American troops comprised mainly of Cherokee, but also of other tribes from the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). Watie was most famous for the Second Battle (or Raid) of Cabin Creek in northeastern Oklahoma where Watie’s unit raided a Union supply shipment that severely disrupted Union operations in the area. BG Stand Watie was also notable as being the last Confederate General to surrender at the end of the Civil War.

Brigadier General Stand Watie is a good reminder that American History is not nearly as clear cut in terms of identities, alliances, and allegiances as some would try to make us believe.

Motorcycle Ride

Try Oklahoma State Route 82 from around Vinita to Vian to sample the area of operations that Watie worked in. To see the ground of the Second Battle of Cabin Creek, turn west onto Oklahoma State Route 28, near Langley, and go to Pensacola, OK, you will find the battlefield about 3 and a half miles north of Pensacola. The battlefield is near Pensacola, OK. It might make a good ride out from Tulsa, OK (~60 miles), Bentonville, AR (~70 miles), University of Arkansas (~85 miles) or maybe a longer ride from Branson, MO (~150 miles), if you happen to be in any of those places.

Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn Tavern 6-8 March 1862

By the end of 1861, the Union forces had secured Missouri by routing the Missouri militia that favored secession. In early 1862, the Union commander, General Samuel Curtis moved his Army of the Southwest into northwest Arkansas to take the fight to the Confedrates and secure Missouri from Rebel cross border incursions.

Newly appointed Confederate Army of the West commander, General Earl Van Dorn decided to take his numerically superior, but logistically inferior forces to the northwest of Arkansas and push the Union back onto the back foot in both Arkansas and Missouri.

After several skirmishes in February and early March, 1862, Curtis settled on favorable ground to the east of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Van Dorn knew it was a good position, so decided to split his forces in an attempt to draw Curtis into a weaker position.

Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn Tavern

On day one of the battle, Curtis took the north and west of the position by heading off a flanking movement. The day was carried by the quick movement of the Union forces, the loss of two Confedrate Generals and the capture of a Colonel. Van Dorn led the other Confederate column to take the south and east near Elkhorn Tavern. On day two, Curtis regrouped and attacked Elkhorn tavern with heavy artillery support. Van Dorn held the position but at a tremendous cost in casualties and ammunition and eventually had to retreat and leave the position to Curtis.

The Union continued to hold the area and the strategically important state of Missouri for most of the rest of the war.

Stand Watie

Side note: One of the Confederate leaders at Pea ridge was Stand Watie who commanded the Cherokee Mounted Rifles. Watie was a pro-treaty Cherokee who had survived the Trail of Tears move from the Carolinas/Tennessee/Georgia homelands to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Watie would later be promoted to Brigadier General and become the only Native American General on either side of the Civil War. After Pea Ridge, Watie commanded a brigade of Native Americans for the Confederacy. He and his troops participated in many battles and campaigns for the South.

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

Begin or end your ride with the online tour of the battlefield. Outside of the Pea Ridge Battlefield National Military Parkpark take a through the loop ride through the Hobbs State Park and around Beaver Lake.

Photo Credit: By Kurz and Allison [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina 15 March 1781

The early part of the American Revolutionary War was fought mostly in the North of the colonies, but after a series of defeats, the British decided to focus on the southern colonies in their persistent belief that Loyalist sympathies ran deeper there than the North. The British had built up a string of victories in the south by early 1781 by chasing down southern militias and defeating them one by one. General Washington sent one of his best Generals, Nathaniel Greene south to revive the Patriot effort. Greene had tried to separate his forces and hoped to catch the British off guard by making them attack him piecemeal. This had had some success, namely at Cowpens two months earlier, but it was getting harder and harder to avoid a major showdown with the British main force. After strategically retreating across South and North Carolina and preserving his force, Greene decided to turn and face his pursuer, Redcoat General Lord Cornwallis. Cornwallis was sure that if he could corner Greene’s force and inflict a decisive defeat on the Rebels, he could soon claim the American south for the British cause. The field for this critical battle was in the small hamlet of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina.

Battle of Guildford Courthouse

On the cold morning of 15 March 1781, Greene deployed his mixed militia and Continental Army force of approximately 4,500 in three lines in depth. The first line was North Carolina militia, the second Virginia militia and the final line was mainly Continentals. Cornwallis took his 1,900 British and German professional soldiers and attacked head on, breaking through the first line quickly, but with serious losses that he could ill afford. The second line held longer and bled the British further. However, the British broke through and finally reached the Continentals where a fierce give and take erupted with attacks and counter-attacks. The resulting mass of fighting men confused the situation to the point that Cornwallis felt that he needed to break up the two armies with grape shot fired into the middle of it. The artillery killed indiscriminately, but had the intended effect of separating the armies. At this point, Greene decided to pull away and save his force. Cornwallis stood victorious on the field, but strategically hamstrung.

From this victory, Cornwallis headed for the coast for re-supply for his depleted force. The condition of his army led him to begin his doomed Virginia campaign which would end later in the year with his surrender at Yorktown.

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

Check out this ride that leads to the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park through the Colonial Heritage Byway.

British Colonization of Ireland in the Early 17th Century

The British Colonization of Ireland

I was reading The Barbarous Years by Bernard Bailyn (a great book by the way) about the earliest settlement of North America by the English and was surprised to read this.

In the years when the Virginia Company’s directors were pouring funds and lives into a failing effort to earn corporate profits from settlements on the James River, they and others were investing also in settlements in Bermuda and in Ireland—especially in Ireland. It was Ireland in fact that was Britain’s fastest-growing colony throughout the early seventeenth century. Large regions in northeastern and southeastern Ireland were seized from their inhabitants, plantations created or resumed, the natives forced west into infertile hill country, and great parcels of land declared open for resettlement by veterans of the Irish wars and migrants from abroad. The result was a burst of westward migration far more powerful than any that lay behind the settlements in the western hemisphere. In the twelve years after 1630, 120,000 Englishmen and Scots are estimated to have migrated to Ireland, double the number of those who went to the West Indies in those years, six times more than went to New England.2

Bailyn, Bernard. The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 (p. 119). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I knew that the English had colonized Ireland with “nobles” and political favorites of Elizabeth, but I had no idea that this had driven a large scale immigration of English citizens as well. One that eclipsed even the North American swell in the early 17th century.

Truly Barbarous

And speaking of “barbarousness,” when someone tells you how barbarous the native vs. colonizer wars in colonial America were, just read a little about the English wars in Ireland. It will set your teeth on edge. Not only were the atrocities similar, but the “feed fights” were similar between Ireland in the late 16th century and Virginia in the early 17th century.  A good book on this topic of barbarity and when it was considered “OK” is Barbarians and Brothers by Wayne E. Lee. It sounds preposterous, but there really were a sort of unwritten rules for what was done and not done when it came to quelling rebellious groups. Fascinating to read about, but utterly horrendous for those who had to live it.

Mineral or Synthetic?

Veronica or Betty, Mary Ann or Ginger, Mineral or Synthetic?

About

My name is TJ Linzy, AKA the Battlefield Biker™. I love history and riding motorcycles. It’s that simple. I combine them to provide information, entertainment, and inspiration to others who may share my tastes. I create Rides to Remember.

I was originally inspired by a solo motorcycle tour to the D-Day beaches in Normandy, France a few years ago. Like so many others, I was moved by the solemnity of the sites, but I also realized that riding my motorcycle gave me a unique viewpoint to experience the sites. Experiences like exposure to the elements, wearing protective gear, a heightened sense to road and terrain conditions, and navigating on the move vaguely simulated some of the environmental awareness factors faced by the people at the time. These experiences gave me a sense of satisfaction that my ride was more than just a ride. It was a Ride to Remember and Battlefield Biker™ was born.

I have ridden all over Europe and North America on motorcycles. I have toured on Harleys, BMWs, KTMs, Hondas, Suzukis, CanAms, and Triumphs. I have led tours in Britain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Finland, Poland, and the USA. I hold a M.A. and a Ph.D. from the King’s College London War Studies department. I served in the Second Cavalry Regiment and still serve as the 2CR Association historian. I am a veteran of the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the East German and Czech border patrol of the Cold War. I am the son of a veteran of both World War II and Vietnam. Between my father, uncles, cousins, nephews, and myself, my family has served in the armed forces since WWII. We served in every decade of the Cold War in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Please, enjoy Battlefield Biker™. I hope you are inspired to use some of the information found here to take your own rides. Near every motorcycle rally or touring destination, there is more to see if you know where to look. Use Battlefield Biker™ to find more, then take some Rides to Remember!

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